Go to Blog

How to (Correctly) Do Content Curation for Your Brand

Julia Spence-McCoy

Some of the most valuable items in the world were made by human hands. Society perceives hand-crafted items as being of higher quality than mass-produced objects. As such, they often become lovingly cherished heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation. Even in today's automated world, the skills of the artisan are recognized as superior talents and their creations are assigned premium value by both industry experts and art connoisseurs alike.

When content curation for your brand is done correctly, it becomes a form of highly wanted and valued work, much like tangible, handcrafted items. Are you curating content correctly?

A Look at Curation

The truth is you can’t call yourself a true Content Marketer if you don’t know more than a thing or two about content curation. It’d be like an appraiser assuming the title because they have a 10-year-old CD and think they can assign value to something; it’s laughable. Content curation is a trend, but it is also a task you need right now and in the future to preserve your competitive edge.

When we first put together a Content Curation Guide, we made a point of stating two things bluntly. First, curation of content does not encourage stealing someone else’s intellectual property for use in furthering or creating an advantage. That’s unprofessional, not mention just plain wrong. Secondly, just because you share content that interests you doesn’t make you a content curator or an expert. True curation does not happen by accident.

What is content curation? According to Kevan Lee of BufferSocial, it’s the “sorting through [of] large amounts of web content to find the best, most meaningful bits and presenting these in an organized, valuable way.” It’s like creating a piece of art that will later be curated into an art exhibit, but instead of your masterpiece being made of oil paints on canvas, it’s composed of exquisite content from around the Web.

The Facts about Shared Content

We share content daily. Everybody does it, regardless of whether they run a business or just want to share something of interest with their friends and family. But when it comes to building a brand, what we share needs to be of value.

According to MarketingProfs.com, a resource for content marketers, approximately 57 percent of marketers say they should share 10 or more pieces of content per day. Why such a specific amount? 10 or more pieces offer the best opportunity to engage with customers properly. Interestingly, about half of these marketers admitted to being unable to meet their curation goals. They also admit that their companies do not share as much content as they ideally should.

Just how important is content curation? Here’s what MarketingProfs has reported:

  • 74 percent of marketers say curation is important to their content strategy.
  • 54 percent agree that automation is important for nailing effective curation.
  • 53 percent believe that curation is becoming less effective due to content saturation.

Marketing Profs Content Curation Survey Results

Why is curation important to content strategy? Don’t people go to blogs and social media because they’re looking for something specific? The answer is both yes and no.

Audiences are quickly becoming fascinated with the Internet’s form of one-stop shopping. Yes, they are looking for something specific, but they want more. They want to get everything of relevancy in one spot, which means they want everything from the service or product to information, news, and predictions. As a result, content curation is growing ever more vital.

Curation provides the one-stop content shop. It saves your audience from digging up other resources like good blogs, awesome websites, killer posts, and epic presentations. It hands them a resource, something that will land you loyal viewers. Make them do the footwork, and they’ll find a one-stop shop elsewhere.

The point to keep in mind is best made by Mark Sherbin when he explains the difference between curation and aggregation. Content is handpicked. Aggregation is algorithmic or robotized. If there’s one thing content curation is not, it’s aggregate.

Getting Started

Before you can successfully start curating content for your brand correctly, you must understand the human element. Automating the curation process through algorithms can save you time, but the results will be less than favorable. An algorithm will choose and share content based on a preset metric. A human…well, their decision process is often based on something no automated process can dare reproduce: Raw emotion.

Handpicked content resonates. It’s usually moving because that’s why it caught and held the curator’s attention. When you properly pick your content by letting a human handle the task, your end product will always be unique. And let’s face it, you want your brand to stand apart as unique. The content you curate should reflect this.

As you set forth on a mission to collect the best content on the Internet, there a number of things you must keep in mind. A strong curation strategy will locate content that:

  • Is relevant to your industry and your brand
  • Improves your relationship with the sites whose content you share
  • Grows your subject matter authority
  • Adds quality content to your website or timeline while simultaneously creating an awesome resource for others
  • Saves time because you won’t have to constantly create content from scratch

The Do’s And Don’ts to Keep in Mind

The content your brand curates should offer your readers a diverse variety of insights and perspectives from peers and credible sources. Correctly executed curation will abide by the 7 Do’s and Don’ts of curation:

1. Don’t Duplicate: Curation is not an excuse to duplicate (or steal) content. Google frowns on it. Businesses abhor it. And to be honest, it’s just plain dirty. As you curate, you still need to incorporate your own spin.

2. Don’t Overuse: It can be tempting to curate from the same source multiple times, but your readers (and Google) won’t find you very appealing. Curation is about variety. A one-stop shop isn’t all one brand; it’s filled with many. Your content should be curated with a similar pattern.

3. Don’t Misuse Images: Images make posts and content more engaging. They’re a must have part of content marketing, but don’t reuse a full size image from a piece you curate. A thumbnail is okay, but the best course of action is to alter the image.

4. Do Focus On Your Audience: The goal of curation is to hand your audience the one-stop shopping experience they’re so eagerly anticipating. Focus on their needs above all else, which is a strong reason for always ensuring your curation is done by hand. An algorithm cannot understand and cater to the unique needs of your audience.

5. Do Curate Carefully: Resist the urge to get carried away. You might curate a few pieces about a topic, click a few things within those pieces, and before you know it, you’re topics away in research, finding all kinds of interesting tidbits. That’s great, but not for your audience. The content you share needs to be spot on and relevant, not pulled from all over just because it somehow, 10 links ago, was relevant to the original topic.

6. Do Retitle Your Posts: If you don’t retitle the posts you share, you’ll find yourself in competition with the original articles in the SERPs. The original author will not be pleased, and you’ll likely earn an unfavorable reputation. Instead, retitle your posts and insert your own keywords.

7. Do Introduce Your Perspective: Your audience follows your brand because they like your perspective, and they want to hear more about what you think. When you curate content, add in your perspective. Yet another reason why the human touch is needed!

8. Ways to Curate Content Some people think that curation is as simple as grab a relevant, well-written piece of content, say something about it, and shoot it out across social media. But this is a rather dry and uncreative idea. Hand curated content can be used in so many creative ways. For example:

  • A Weekly Blog Post: Sometimes referred to as a “link roundup,” you can share curated content in a simple, weekly blog post that collects and shares links to helpful resources around the Internet. Each link should strongly relate to the niche of your brand.
  • An Email Newsletter: We often use email newsletters to highlight the latest and greatest blogs and blurbs from our business in case our audience missed the initial postings. But these newsletter can also be used to share curated content. Sharing content is especially useful if you’ve had a quiet blogging week or need to fill some empty space.
  • Social Media Profiles: Social sharing is all about variety. It’s important to understand that content curation should not and cannot replace your personal updates, brand mentions, and other miscellaneous content sharing. On the contrary, it will simply be added to the already established schedule.

Efficient Curation Techniques

Handmade items take time. In fact, they’re often painstaking to create. If you are, or were, leaning toward automated curation because you’re low on time, then it’s time we talked about efficient curation techniques.

According to MarketingProfs, marketers spend about 28 percent of their time (on average) on content marketing. 50 percent of them would spend 40 percent or more of their time on content marketing if limitations weren’t a factor. Therefore, the key to incorporate content curation effectively into your content marketing strategy is to leverage the methods that are time efficient:

  • Step 1: Build a source pool. You can lose a lot of time finding valuable content sources. Chances are there’s a whole pool already outside your virtual door. As you check your social and news feeds, capture the sources of those articles and blogs that relate to your business and industry. Sit down later and dive into those sources to determine if they’re strong resources of valuable, relevant content. Do this for as little as two weeks and you’ll find yourself creating a lengthy list of sources to check for share worthy content.
  • Step 2: Read to determine intrigue. Curating content without reading it just isn’t fair. If you’re sharing it for your audience to find it intriguing and read, you had better be reading it yourself. In truth, not everyone reads. It’s easy to skim the headings and say, “Yup, that fits,” and then schedule the piece for curation. But that’s not smart. Taking the time to actually read will ensure the story is accurate, relevant, and everything it itself has said it would be. If you don’t read, you risk sharing content that’s a letdown. Letdown your audience enough and they’ll find a better one-stop shop. In addition, reading is never a waste of time because it can inspire original ideas you can later incorporate into your unique content. Therefore, you’re actually killing two birds with one time saving stone, if you take the time to read.
  • Step 3: Save and share. You can save time by saving content as you find and read it. For example, you might compose your curation post as you find the content and keep an ongoing draft for inclusion in your weekly blog or email newsletter. You can store content in a spreadsheet and pull from it as needed for your curation post schedule. You can automate your best curation finds as posts to social media or your blog to simplify your workflow. This is the only automation that’s helpful and acceptable in the curation process. You can even skip the save, and share right away, but be wary of flooding your audience with shares. Even the most relevant and epic content can seem like spam when a single account suddenly floods the Twitter feed.

Frequency Is Important

According to Kevan Lee, correct curation requires frequency. When broken down per social network, the overall daily goal is really quite reachable, especially when you employ the time efficiency techniques we just covered:

Content Curation Frequency Chart by Kevan Lee of Buffer

Your Curation Endeavors

Content curation is really a fun process. It’s even a great means of striking some ideas for original content. As you begin curating by hand, you’ll likely tweak the guidelines we’ve discussed.

How do you curate content? If you have an epic way of curating or another efficient technique, we’d all love to hear you! Please, do leave a comment.

Like this post? Follow us on RSS and read more interesting posts:

Julia McCoy's life career happened when she left medical school to follow her passion in copywriting and SEO at 19 years old. A solely self-taught entrepreneur, she built an online copywriting agency a year later in 2011, Express Writers, which has grown to include more than 60 talented copywriters and editors with hundreds of clients around the world. Follow Julia's blog for all things copywriting & SEO.
Share this post


2000 symbols remain
Very good synopsis of the proper way to curate content. Thanks!
Neil Ferree
Nice summary & detailing Julia of what's really involved in the Art of Content Curation. My favorite line in your semi-provocative piece was this; It’d be like an appraiser assuming the title because they have a 10-year-old CD and think they can assign value to something; it’s laughable